Mistakes people make during tough conversations
There are a few common mistakes people make during tough conversations and I’m here to tell you about them!
A lot of people are of the belief that they are never the problem. It’s always something that someone else has said or done. The reality is you cannot be right all the time and sometimes it’s going to be you that pulls one of these mistakes, and that’s okay. The good news is it’s never too late to learn from our mistakes so that next time, we can get a better result.
So what are the common mistakes?
1. Going into the conversation with a ‘here to win’ mentality
People enter a conversation they know is going to be difficult with a winning mentality. This means they want to ‘win’ the debate or ‘win’ the person over to their position. In difficult dialogues we either need to decide to not engage (if we know the outcome we want will not likely happen with dialogue right now) or go into the conversation willing to actually listen to what the other person has to say. When we’re here to win, we do not listen properly nor do we look for any common ground. We look only for disagreements and frame the dialogue solely through our own perceptions. If we’re dialoguing with another here to win it mentality, well then good luck, because you’ll be going in circles for a while. I do not recommend.
2. Doing a poor job of reading the room
Often we misread the signals people are giving us. Now, we can’t read minds (nor should we be expected to) but sometimes someone’s reaction is a response to feeling shame, feeling overwhelmed, feeling threatened, etc. Sometimes it can just be that the timing isn’t right (people are too tired, too full, too drunk), and sometimes it’s because we’re not aware of how we’re coming off to others. See next point for details.
3. They engage in escalating language and behaviour
This type of behaviour uses both verbal and body language that causes feelings of threat to the other person. Passing judgements, throwing insults, scoffing and showing complete disdain towards what the other is saying are all signals to the other person that they better best stay on guard. Practicing escalation minimizing language and behaviour is crucial in tough conversations. This doesn’t mean you can’t show that you are upset or angry, no no, I will never ask you to hide your feelings. But there are ways to verbalize what we’re experiencing without dehumanizing, humiliating or condescending others.
4. Not disengaging when they need to
This is when you stay at the scene for too long. We get caught up in our emotions or we wait until we’re frozen and can’t move. Pay attention to your cues as well as others’ cues. If it’s starting to feel bad, it’s probably a good time to call it. Tough conversations rarely get resolved or figured out in one go. They are a process.
Preserve your energy. Listen to your needs. Let your boundaries protect you.